Wales set to drop blanket 20mph speed limit

Speed camera

Many of the hundreds of miles of roads in Wales covered by a blanket 20mph speed limit look set to be reversed by September, just months after the policy was introduced.

The Welsh transport secretary, Ken Skates, said: “It’s not a U-turn. This is about refining and finessing a policy that will help make Wales safer. I think it’s important to be able to listen to people and show humility and accept where errors have been made.

“I don’t think it’s embarrassing for us to have pursued a policy that will make Wales feel safer, reduce collisions, hopefully save lives and save the NHS valuable time and financial resource. I don’t have a problem at all in saying to people, I’m sorry if we’ve got elements wrong, we will correct them.”

Asked if there would be hundreds of changes, Skates said: “It could well be. It will vary quite significantly across Wales. For example, in Cardiff there may only be half a dozen changes because it lends itself so well to 20mph, whereas in other parts of Wales that are more rural and semi-urban, we may see far more changes.

“Overwhelmingly, though, what I hear is that outside schools, outside hospitals, in built-up areas, outside of playgrounds and so forth, 20mph is the right speed. But there are some routes where 30 is more appropriate.”

Skates said revised guidance on 20mph roads would be published in July, with councils expected to start detailed consultation on changes from September.

RAC road safety spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “This decision will please a great many drivers in Wales, but it’s a shame so many roads that should have always remained at 30mph were unnecessarily converted to 20mph.

“More public money now needs to be spent changing signs back at time when funds are already stretched.

“We are very supportive of 20mph limits being implemented in places where there’s a greater presence of pedestrians and cyclists as they are proven to reduce road casualties, but when used on roads that are clearly better suited to 30mph, there’s a risk drivers don’t obey the limit and their effectiveness is undermined.

“Among those who admit to speeding on 20mph roads, RAC research [see below] shows half (50%) of drivers say they do so because they feel the limit is inappropriate.

“This compares to just 28% of drivers who say they exceed the 30mph limit for the same reason.”

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